CHS students, teachers discuss the influence of skating culture on daily lives

Skateboarder and junior Mitchell Johnson jumps a rail in James Dillon skatepark.
Johnson said he likes how the Monon Center has rails so he can practice his new tricks.
Agrayan Gupta | Photo

AIR TIME: Skateboarder and junior Mitchell Johnson jumps a rail in James Dillon skatepark. Johnson said he likes how the Monon Center has rails so he can practice his new tricks. Agrayan Gupta | Photo

AIR TIME: Skateboarder and junior Mitchell Johnson jumps a rail in James Dillon skatepark. Johnson said he likes how the Monon Center has rails so he can practice his new tricks. Agrayan Gupta | Photo

Sameen Siddiqui

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Although Carmel only has one skatepark at the Monon Center, it is home to many skateboarders. Skateboarder and junior Mitchell Johnson said he got into skateboarding because he used to watch the X Games with his dad and said he would get inspired with what he saw on TV and wanted to do the same tricks. He said he usually skates at his house, the Monon Center or Dillon Park in Noblesville. 

“I really like the Monon Center because of the rails there. They’re nice and big and perfect to learn new tricks on, but a lot of people don’t like it just cause the ramps are kind of steep, which just is harder for most people,” Johnson said.

Skateboarder and junior Justin Dean said he was also introduced to skateboarding by a family member. Dean said he usually skates downtown rather than at a park.

Skateboarder and junior Mitchell Johnson performs a trick while skating at a park. Johnson said that while it is easy to get injured, skateboarding is too fun and exciting to leave.
Veronica Teeter | Photo

“You get more ‘rep’ from the skating industry if you skate street more, rather than skating on a park. People at skateparks tend to be more competitive rather than looking at it as art and being friends,” Dean said.

Timothy Devlin, director of Indianapolis Skatepark Advocates and engineering teacher, said when he moved to Indiana in third grade, one of his first friend’s older brother skateboarded, which introduced him to the sport and got him skating by the age of 10. Devlin said he tries to skate regularly in backyards in Indianapolis, which often feature a lot of concrete. Devlin also said he skateboards at a skatepark at Lake Sullivan’s Sports Complex, or him and his friends travel, but they mainly skate at skateparks rather than street skate.

Devlin said his friends and he formed the Indianapolis Skatepark Advocates to skateboarders communicate to the city if, for example, a skatepark is outdated.

“We formed our group to make sure skateboarders and skatepark users are the ones who are designing the parks and having them built by the correct people,” Devlin said. “So we don’t have a situation where the skatepark that’s in the city is not up to the quality of the skateboarders using it, so they’re excited to use the park,” he said.

Devlin said he thinks that’s what happened with the Carmel skatepark, where the design of it was not completely followed since they had never built a skatepark before. He said now there’s a section of the skatepark that is really hard to skate and he is trying to organize some skateboarders to work with the city to redesign and rebuild the skatepark to be more suitable for its users.

“Unfortunately, (street skating) is tied to vandalism and there’s this theory that liability will result in a lawsuit of someone, so there’s all these ideas that skateboarding is bad. When a city puts a skatepark in, then the police or whoever is enforcing the no skateboarding laws, say, ‘Hey we have a skatepark; you need to go to that skatepark,’ so we want to make sure the skateparks meet skateboarders’ needs so they can go and skate there,” he said.

Not only can skateboarding be tied to vandalism, but also be tied to injuries. According to the National Safety Council, 125,145 people were treated in the hospitals for skateboarding-related injuries in 2015. Devlin said injuries are just a part of skateboarding. He said he’s been seriously injured by skateboarding, but that won’t make him stop.

Devlin said, “Skateboarding is so much fun, and it’s that determination that you get that makes people take that risk of getting injured. It’s just part of it; it builds character. You put so much work and effort into landing or learning a trick or mastering something that you’re doing with skateboarding that it’s just part of it that you just go through anyways.”

Johnson said the time it takes him to learn a trick depends on the trick.

“Some (tricks) I can get in a few tries, and some of them it can take hours at a time, it really just depends on how hard it is, or how good I’m feeling that day,” he said.

Devlin said many tricks are based off of other tricks, so if a skateboarder has a good understanding of the one trick, adding other skills is easier.

Teacher Timothy Devlin and skateboarder and junior Mitchell Johnson discuss tricks. Devlin and Johnson, along with other advocates, are trying to reform the Monon Center skatepark.
Agrayan Gupta | Photo

Devlin said, “Once you start and get into (the skateboarding) community, it takes over. You make life decisions based on skateboarding, you move to places because of the skateboarding that’s there. A majority of my friends are from skateboarding, and now they have families and everything else and now our families hang out. Skateboarding is kind of the binding element between all that. If you haven’t tried skateboarding you should try it because it’s really fun.”


About the Writer
Sameen Siddiqui, Sports Reporter
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